Making Factual Determinations, Applying Legal Standards, and Reaching Allegation Outcomes
Assessing evidence, attempting to reach factual conclusions, comparing facts to department policy and other legal standards, and employment of standard of proof is integral to the work of most civilian oversight of law enforcement agencies. Most review-focused and auditor/monitor-focused agencies evaluate the quality of internal department investigations, including the quality of these investigations’ evidentiary analysis and findings. Investigation-focused agencies gather evidence, evaluate it, and are responsible for reaching allegation outcomes (e.g., substantiated/sustained, exonerated, unfounded, and unsubstantiated/not sustained) themselves. On June 3, 2020 NACOLE welcomed Florence L. Finkle to discuss a step-by-step approach for analyzing evidence and reaching allegation findings, or outcomes. Ms. Finkle, who designed training programs for the New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board and the New York City Department of Correction Investigation Division, discusses the process by which practitioners determine (for each allegation) undisputed and disputed relevant facts; analyze evidence in an effort to determine disputed relevant facts and what happened; compare facts (if determined) to departmental policy and other applicable legal standards; and relevance of standard and burden of proof to this process.
During the last three decades, Florence L. Finkle has worked to hold law enforcement officers accountable for committing crimes and/or violating internal departmental policies, and improve law enforcement practices and accountability systems. Ms. Finkle prosecuted corrupt police officers at the New York County District Attorney's Office (1987-1996), helped build and professionalize the New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board as its deputy executive director for investigations and executive director (1996-2007), and as the New York City Department of Correction’s deputy commissioner for integrity and policy (2010-2014), reformed the department’s internal investigations and operational audits. Ms. Finkle’s investigations led to indictments against 23 correction officers. In September 2017, the membership of the National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement elected Ms. Finkle to serve on its board of directors; she serves as NACOLE’s secretary and co-chairs NACOLE’s Training, Education, and Standards Committee. Ms. Finkle most recently worked as a consultant (2018-2020) with the Seattle Police Monitor and managed a team of experts who reviewed the Seattle Office of Police Accountability's administrative disciplinary investigations. Ms. Finkle drafted the report describing the assessment's methodology, findings, and recommendations for improving the quality and timeliness of investigations.
Ms. Finkle graduated summa cum laude in 1984 from Tufts University and obtained her law degree from New York University School of Law in 1987.